A Traditional Christmas

Making applesauce and cinnamon ornaments.

This seems like the time of year for family traditions. Traditions around what you do, where you go, what you eat, when you eat it…

I love the idea of traditions, but have found them hard to get going. My family did things when I was kid but we really didn’t have any long-standing traditions. For example, when it was time to decorate the tree, my Grandpa put the topper on last and then we plugged in the lights to admire the whole thing. And while that was a nice moment, it wasn’t really a tradition.

One year, in high school, Mrs. Pearson assigned  a paper to write about holiday family traditions. I can’t remember the required word count, but I knew I had nothing solid enough to last a whole paper. I wrote about my Great Grandma Harmon’s brownies that she served on Christmas Eve. It was a lovely paper about how we all gathered around and enjoyed those brownies that only Grandma could make with carols playing and tinsel reflecting rainbows on the walls. All fiction.

By the time I was old enough to really know what Great Grandma cooked, her Alzheimer’s had advanced to the point you wanted to carefully inspect anything coming from her kitchen.

I also did not spend my childhood holidays in any traditional spot as my parents were divorced and divvied up the calendar the best they could. And I was in the same boat with my kids as an adult, so we didn’t have those year after year traditions either.

This year has been full of change as well and even the things that passed as traditions in previous years will be different. So I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve always wanted traditions (enough to invent them) and how it just hasn’t worked out.

Maybe it’s time to accept that each year, it’s going to be different.

We’ll do the best we can to honor the spirit of this season. We’ll enjoy the lights and the fun, but we’ll remember the sacred parts too.  We’ll be sure to tell others how loved they are, even if we can’t do it person. And we’ll share our abundance with others who have less.

I don’t know all the how, the when, the where or even the what of it.

But love, spirit and sharing will be the family traditions we keep.

The rest is just detail.